Winternachten Lecture: Elif Shafak
The writer as commuter
The novels of Elif Shafak have been praised in the Dutch press as "cosmopolitan, with a universal human message". In 2005 Winternachten introduced Shafak in the Netherlands. Now she opens the festival with the Winternachten Lecture. The lecture can be downloaded here as PDF.
In our polarised society, in which the islamic and western worlds are often diametrically oppsed we need new cultural forces. Shafak sees a role for literature. In her Winternachten Lecture she will portray the ideal writer as a commuter between cultures, a nomad who by means of art brings two conflicting worlds closer together. She challenges writers to descend from their ivory towers. Using examples from presentday eastern and western literature she will illustrate her views on literature and multiculturalism.
In recent years Elif Shafak's novels have created quite a stir, not only in Turkey, but alsoi elsewhere in the world. Her first novel in Dutch translation was The Flea Palace (2006), about the pictutesque lives of the inhabitants of a dilapidated apartment building in Istanbul. Important themes in her work are multiculturalism, sexuality and the position of women. In 2006 her novel The Bastard of Istanbul appeared. Shafak was born in Strassbourg and raised as the daughter of a single Turkish diplomat and spent a large part of her youth in Madrid and Amman. She studied international relations at the Technical University of Ankara, where she got her Ph.D. in political science on a dissertation entitled: 'State, secularism and masculinity in the modern Turkish society'. She taught among other things gender studies at the universities of Michigan and Arizona. Other books by Shafak are The Saint of Incipient Insanities (2004), The Gaze (2006) and Black Milk, which appeared in November 2007. Shafak publishes regularly in Turkish newspapers and magazines.
After the lecture Elif Shafak will be interviewed by essay writer and NRC Handelsblad editor Bas Heijne. An English/Dutch text of the lecture will be made available.
DOEN Foundation supports the Winternachten Lecture 2008, because international writers are given an opportunity here to share their views. With their colleagues at the festival, but also with the broader public. Thus new insights are born offering a contribution to the social debate in the Netherlands.
The lecture and the interview are in English.